Murdoch urges Facebook to pay for 'trusted' news sources

Facebook has announced plans to identify 'high quality' news sources through user surveys

Murdoch urges Facebook to pay for 'trusted' news sources

Rupert Murdoch attending the 2017 WSJ Innovator Awards in New York City, 01-11-2017. Image: Dennis Van Tine/ABACAPRESS.COM

Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has called for a new model that would see social media giants paying fees to 'trusted' news sources.

It comes after Facebook announced plans to survey users in an attempt to identify "high quality" news sources - and tackle sensationalism and misinformation.

The plan will see users asked if they are familiar with a news source in their feed - and whether they trust it.

The company has also announced plans to reduce the amount of content from "businesses, brands and media" that appears on users news feeds.

Posts and videos from friends and family will now be handed a higher priority instead.

"If Facebook wants to recognize 'trusted' publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies," Mr Murdoch said in a statement.

"The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. "

He claimed these "carriage payments" would have a minor impact on Facebook's profits but a "major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists."

News feed

The financial difficulties faced by the journalism industry in recent decades have been well documented as increasing digital traffic has failed to make up for the drop in subscription and advertising revenue.

Many news outlets have become heavily reliant on social media channels to distribute their content - with Facebook driving huge amounts of online traffic to news sites around the world.

However, the quality of news on Facebook has been called into question since the 2016 US election campaign when users saw hoaxes saying Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump and a federal agent investigating Hillary Clinton had been found dead.

Some of the fake news is believed to have come from Russian sources.

Scurrilous

Mr Murdoch claimed Facebook and Google have "popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable."

He also warned that the measure proposed to tackle the problems thus far have been " inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.”

"There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism," he said.

Misinformation

Announcing the new attempt to identify authoritative news sources on Facebook last week, the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg said there is "too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarisation in the world today."

"Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don't specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.

"That's why it's important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground."

The change - which is being tested first in the US from next week - is due to affect posts by media outlets and news stories that individuals share.

Facebook boasts more than two billion users around the world every month.